May 9, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Framber Valdez (59) throws against the Los Angeles Angels during the third inning at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Framber Valdez outpitched Shohei Ohtani as the Astros ended their three-game skid with a 3-1 win in Anaheim. Valdez allowed one run over eight innings to earn his third win of the season, while the Astros handed Ohtani his first loss, scoring three runs against the Angels ace over seven innings. Alex Bregman finished 2-for-4 and has back-to-back multi-hit games in Anaheim after finishing 0-for-10 in Seattle over the weekend.
Framber Valdez steals the show
Ohtani always gets top-billing whenever he takes the mound, but he was out-dueled by the Astros ace on Tuesday night. Valdez retired the first eight men he faced before Zach Neto sent a poorly located 1-1 sinker over the right field wall, but the Astros lefty was in complete control the rest of the night.
Valdez retired the side in order in the fourth, worked around a two-out error in the fifth, stranded a pair in the sixth, and left a man on base in the seventh before retiring the side in order in the eighth. He allowed one run on three hits over eight innings while striking out 12, the second-highest total of his career.
Not only did he retire the first two batters of every inning, he pounded the strike zone all night, throwing 75-of-99 pitches for a strike while generating 18 whiffs, half coming on his cutter.
Valdez lowered his ERA to 2.38 on Tuesday, and he’s thrown seven straight quality starts after going just five innings on Opening Day.
Ryan Pressly retired Ohtani, Anthony Rendon, and Hunter Renfroe in order in the ninth inning for his fifth save of the season.
Offense gets a jolt from an unlikely source
Ohtani sailed through the game’s first four innings, holding the Astros to one hit while striking out five, but the tables turned in the fifth, and it started with the bottom of the order.
Jake Meyers worked a one-out walk against Ohtani, and the Astros number nine hitter, Martín Maldonado took a hanging sweeper and drove it 393 feet for his second home run of the season. Not only did Maldonado go deep against one of the best pitchers in baseball, he did so on what might’ve been his best pitch. Right-handed hitters entered the game batting .135 on that pitch this season with a 42.3% whiff rate.
The Astros added to the lead in the inning as Mauricio Dubón and Alex Bregman followed Maldonado’s homer with singles, and Yordan Alvarez, who entered the game batting .522 with runners in scoring position, singled home Dubón for the third run of the inning.
News and Notes:
•Yordan Alvarez finished 2-for-4, extending his on-base streak to 29 games, the longest in franchise history to start a season. Going back to last season, Alvarez has reached base in 33 straight games.
•Dubón left the game in the fifth inning due to left hamstring discomfort.
•Astros manager Dusty Baker told reporters in Anaheim that outfielder Michael Brantley will not be activated off the IL for Wednesday’s game and he’s going to take a break from hitting for a couple of days.
•Second baseman José Altuve took live BP in Sugar Land on Tuesday after taking batting practice on the field in Seattle on Saturday and Sunday.
•Lance McCullers Jr threw a 25-pitch bullpen session before the game and told reporters in Anaheim that his velocity hit 91.6 MPH. He’ll throw another bullpen this weekend in Chicago.
The Astros and Angels will play the finale of their three-game series on Wednesday afternoon with Cristian Javier (2-1) starting opposite Griffin Canning (2-0).